• Kyodo

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China has told Japan through diplomatic channels that it is concerned about Tokyo’s attempt to add remote southwestern islands to UNESCO’s World Heritage list, according to officials with knowledge of the situation.

China’s worries stem from its belief that the designation of the Amami-Ryukyu Islands between Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures, could have a negative effect on its claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, a major source of tension between the two countries.

Although Japan has explained many times that the Senkaku Islands are not part of its application to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Beijing has not changed its view, said the officials, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity.

China claims that the uninhabited Senkakus, which it calls the Diaoyu, are an integral part of its territory and Japan has no right to apply for the inclusion of the Amami-Ryukyu region, according to the officials.

Japan is hoping to include four areas — Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa’s main island and Iriomote Island — on the list in 2018.

Despite China’s opposition, Japan is expected to submit the necessary recommendation for inclusion to UNESCO by Feb. 1.

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